With most of us earning a category 1-5 certificate as part of the current MegaBonus, it's important to know some places to redeem it.
Many have lamented the fact that there are few (if any) category 5 or lower properties in desirable locations. I've put together a list of suggestions.
I had the following criteria
This list is not meant to be comprehensive. I've included a good sample of the full service category 5 (and 4 and 3) properties, but if your favorite location is not included, please don't be upset. This is just a guide of possible places to use certificates.
There are certainly gaps across the country. Hopefully there are some interesting places where Insiders might put their certificates to good use. I've marked the few properties at which I've stayed with
Category 5 properties
Villa Rentals in Miami, Florida | Marriott's Villas at Doral (a Marriott Vacation Club )
Delta Orlando Lake Buena Vista: Orlando Hotels and Resorts (a new Delta property)
Hotels in Des Moines Iowa | Des Moines Marriott Downtown ( booked for May 2016)
National Harbor Hotels | Hotels Near Gaylord National Harbor (AC property near DC)
Dearborn, MI, Hotel: The Henry, Autograph Collection, A Premier Hotel in Dearborn, MI (former Ritz-Carlton)
Hotels in Dearborn | The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel (several Insiders have recommended this property)
AC Hotel Kansas City Westport: Kansas City Stylish Hotel - Kansas City Business Hotel (how about an AC property?)
Hotels In Omaha NE | Omaha Hotels | Omaha Marriott ( booked for May 2016)
Category 6 properties moving down to category 5 this year
Category 4 properties
Downtown Phoenix Hotels | Renaissance Phoenix Downtown (soon to be category 5)
The Citizen Hotel, Autograph Collection: Sacramento Unique Hotels (soon to be category 5)
Hotels in San Ramon CA | San Ramon Marriott (soon to be category 5)
Coral Springs Hotels | Hotels Coral Springs, Florida (soon to be category 5)
Carmel, Indiana Hotels – Renaissance Indianapolis North (soon to be category 5)
Hotels In Indianapolis Indiana | Marriott East Indianapolis (soon to be category 5)
Cedar Rapids Marriott: Cedar Rapids hotel accommodations ( booked for May 2016)
Raleigh, NC Hotels | Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (soon to be category 5)
Renaissance Allentown Hotel: Allentown Distinctive Hotels (soon to be category 5)
Marriott Memphis East ( booked for March 2016 - soon to be category 5)
There are even a couple dozen category 3 full service properties. Here are just a few. (Feel free to look up others)
This list doesn't even include the hundreds (probably over a thousand) of Fairfield Inns, Courtyards, Residence Inns, SpringHill Suites, or TownePlace Suites. I also left off current category 5 properties moving up to category 6.
Certainly this list won't please everyone as there are clearly areas of the country with no full service properties below category 6. I do hope it gives Insiders some ideas and allows all of us to redeem the certificates earned during the current MegaBonus. It would be sad if too many of those certs go unredeemed.
Wow, nice work there bejacob
Just to emphasise a current Cat 6 that becomes a Cat 5 later this month
Oh, and conincidentally that's where TIPPLE will be held
I mostly use my 1-5's in the Boston area - not IN Boston, but just north. Our son lives up there, so whenever we visit, we usually stay at the Courtyard on Unicorn Drive. Very nice hotel - with a real restaurant and bar. Never eat at the restaurant, but it's there. Have frequented the bar. There is also another Courtyard a few miles north and a Fairfield also in Woburn, and a Marriott in Burlington by the mall that are all 5's or less.
Stayed out at the Courtyard Gettysburg, which was a 4 or 5.
It is pretty tough finding 1-5's in the Northeast, near anything you would want to visit (particularly if you like cities). It is good for us that there are several in the Boston area. Certainly can't stay in NYC anymore, on certificates.
Yes, there a lot of CY, SHS, FI, and other great non-full service properties out there. In many cases they can be the best uses of certificates. I encourage folks to look beyond this list as it doesn't include any of those locations.
I certainly can't vouch for all the places on the list. I've visited only a few. I can recommend all the ones on the list at which I have stayed.
Incredible effort bejacob, thank you so very much for doing the leg work. Might even have to buy you a Shiner in September at the TIPPLE!!
Thanks IAHFLYR. I might have to take you up on that offer.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of locations out there. I didn't even include them all (after 3 or 4 Marriotts in Denver, Atlanta, and even Houston, I decided I didn't need to put every property on the list). Some of my favorites (SHS in Chattanooga comes to mind) aren't full service properties, so were filtered out at the beginning. The point is there are some good (and probably some not so good) properties where we can use certificates.
Good overview, bejacob and thanks for the time spent providing it. We like to use a certificate stay + one paid night for a weekend trip, getting a stay and points but at lower overall cost.
No kidding, that was a lot of work.
I did some more looking and became excited when I thought I could add these three to your list, but sadly when I checked the 2016 category change list, alas, they are moving up:
|Long Beach Marriott||5||6|
|Santa Clara Marriott||5||6|
So is one of my go to airport properties for early morning international flights, where I just stayed last weekend:
|Courtyard Los Angeles LAX/El Segundo||5||6|
Drats and drats. I think I can figure something out, but I'll need to get an extension on the certs.
This one is moving up, but still in the ball park. Good back up property for when everything else is too pricey or when week day prices jump up:
|Fairview Park Marriott||3||4|
That does sometimes present a problem. A couple times I've had to call customer service and request more time to use certificates. Marriott will give a one-time extension. The last time, I had plans to use my certificate a month after it expired. When I called, the date got pushed forward an entire year.
I've got a couple to use, one from the MegaBonus and one from my MR Visa. At least the second one is good for 12 months.
I can verify that the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, the Renaissance Woodbridge NJ, and the Stamford CT Marriott are all good properties. The Pittsburgh Airport Marriott treats me like a king, I contact the front desk manager and she always upgrades me to the executive suite and on my last visit over Christmas, to Presidential suite!
Nice list with a few surprises, thank you! To help some people make choices I will give a few comments on a few I know well:
Stamford Hotel | Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, Hotel Stamford, CT - Right off 95 but the downtown has some nice restaurants. Walk across the road to take MetroNorth right into Grand Central Station, NYC
Hotels in Trumbull, CT | Trumbull Marriott Merritt Parkway - Just outside New Haven, CT right off Merritt Pkwy. Secluded location and a very nice property. Higher end restaurant with lots of craft beers. The concierge lounge moves to an area adjacent to the restaurant for breakfast due to size. Very good breakfast spread!
Westchester Hotel Near Rye, NY | Renaissance Westchester Hotel - Not too far from NYC, right off the Hutchinson Pkwy but secluded. Nice restaurant.
Hotels in Dallas TX | Renaissance Dallas Hotel - Close to downtown and a great view of the Downtown from the hotel. Awesome smell throughout the hotel from the wood grill in restaurant. Nice rooftop pool.
Hotels in Greenbelt, MD | Greenbelt Marriott - Good for business but in an office park in a "challenging" neighborhood. Close to Greenbelt Metro station for eacy access to DC.
Hotels in Edison NJ near New York City | Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel - Just stayed here this week for the first time. Nice hotel. Could get to NYC by driving over to Staten Island, parking at the SI Ferry and taking that into the city. By the way, contrary to some of the ticket sellers in Manhattan the SI ferry is completely FREE. Vehicles are no longer carried on the ferry.
Hotels in Greenville, SC - Marriott Greenville SC - Greenville Marriott - Very nice property just off I-85.
Hotels in Tysons Corner Near Reston, VA | Tysons Corner Marriott - Tysons corner has a lot of malls and offices. Metro was just extended out to Tysons so could be a good hotel to commute into DC
I will add a few on to the info that boomer provided.
In Maryland, the Washingtonian in Gaithersburg is only a 4 and is a great FS Marriott and is in a great location near the Shady Grove Metro Station on the red line. There is a shuttle between the hotel and the metro station that I take and only need to tip the driver. Also when you are about two stops from Shady Grove you can call and the driver will be waiting or there in a couple of minutes. There are other Marriott brands nearby, but I would choose the Washingtonian. Very nice business area and not "challenging" like the Greenbelt property.
If you want to get a taste of NM, all of the Marriott's in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are Cat 4 or less. The FS Marriott at I-40 and Louisiana is very nice and near a number of restaurants and shopping. The other Albuquerque Marriott ( the Pyramid) in Journal Center is nice but in a business park and not within walking distance of much. However Albuquerque is not that big and you can be most anywhere in 30 minutes even with traffic.
We often stay just north of Boston, at the Courtyard in Unicorn Business Park, Woburn. I believe it is a category 4. Nice property, indoor pool, decent fitness center, full bar and a restaurant (haven't eaten there - too many great places close by). It is only about a 10 minute drive to the North End of Boston.
Amazing work @bejacob. I hope Marriott has a job for you because you do a lot of work for them. I use the certs a lot of time flying in or out of airports--especially last minute. I also find them useful to use on road trips when I just need to stop for the night but not interested in seeing anything, just a nice bed and maybe a breakfast. I also used one at the Residence Inn in Long Beach which I really enjoyed. It's actually a cat. 4. I know there's a bunch of people who are grumpy about this, but I always find a use.
Although it's not a full service property, there is a new RI opening in Concord MA this fall. Right now they are taking reservations for October although it's supposed to open in September. The hotel is about 2.5 miles from Concord Center. Just a few of the things to do:
Minuteman National Park (American Revolutionary History)
Walden Pond (H.D. Thoreau)
A beautiful downtown main street area
Canoeing down the Sudbury river
Scenic fall drive to see the leave change colors
There are also two highly acclaimed restaurants in town that even folks from Boston come out for.
Two other restaurants have live music every weekend (and also have good food).
I was actually surprised it's at a Cat 5.
U rock, bejacob!
p.s. I just burnt my two remaining category 5 certificates for reservations for two rooms at the Newark Airport Renaissance hotel.
Despite my default preference for Renaissance, I typically prefer the Newark Airport Marriott (a category 7), because it's so convenient. [See the discussion here: Differences | Marriott Rewards® Insiders]
But two free rooms is, uh, duh, two free rooms, so we're looking forward to our free stay at the Renaissance.
Thank you Marriott!!!!
Me too. I don't live particularly far from EWR but I have stayed at the EWR airport Marriott twice the night before a long awaited vacation and my flight was the first of the day at 6AM. I am not going to risk missing a flight to Hawaii because of a flat tire, car won't start, road closure, etc. The "insurance" is worth every penny in my opinion.
And, bejacob, just to follow up....
Just back from NY/NJ, where I burnt two (2) Category 5 certificates at the Newark Airport Renaissance before they expired.
Hard to argue with free category 5 certificates, when your free stay includes a nicely managed concierge lounge with heavy evening foods/desserts and plenty of decent breakfast options....
Also - on this topic - I recently stayed at a Protea in Namibia - First Protea Experience - Windhoek, Namibia (wi... | Marriott Rewards® Insiders - I paid for the room, but it was also a low category property, so that could have been free too....
Great list! It also is useful for the 1-5 cert from the rewards credit card.
But I am pretty sure that booking the Doral Villas requires two upgrade certificates per night, as Doral has only two bedroom units and the MVC policy for rewards points is that each bedroom in the unit booked requires an upgrade certificate.
Outstanding work, bejacob! That's a whole lot of great info there. Too bad there aren't any near me or in my planned travel destinations. Gonna have to let another one expire!
I just spent a 3-day weekend at Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel using (2) cat1-5 free certs. It is maybe 12-15 minutes from the popular city center (where baseball park and bars are, for reference).
I would recommend it for business or pleasure, we went to hang out with friends and hit Red Rocks Amphitheater. While the hotel is a bit dated on the inside, it is a really nice facility, really cool and unique looking from the outside, the entire lobby is amazingly updated and beautiful, but the hallways and rooms are still a bit old school. The maintenance guy said it should be remodeled sometime late this year or early next year, the new property manager is going to invest heavily. So it will be even nicer shortly. Has a nice / small pool with plenty of hangout space, as well as an indoor poor and jacuzzi area, with a gym. Quite impressive facilities. Nice bar in the lobby that you can grab beers for the pool or room. Buffet breakfasts at the restaurant on weekends was nice with the CL closed.
There is a CL on the top level, not the largest and a bit dated, but has a nice big fridge for all drinks, food was there, drinks were competitive priced.
Overall well worth the cat5 certificate, as us Californian's struggle to find anything that fits the free certificates.
In Newport Beach this weekend, I was able to burn a cat. 5 certificate one night at the Hotels Orange County | Residence Inn John Wayne Airport. It is farther afield of my destination than I prefer staying, but all of my other regular, full service haunts, the Hotels In Irvine CA | Irvine Marriott Hotel and the Newport Beach California Hotels | Newport Beach Marriott Bayview have rocketed above the category 5 level in the past few years.
Though it is disappointing each year to have to choose new properties that are farther afield of a destination (due to category creep), I was glad for the opportunity to try the Irvine Res Inn property. It's a nice property with incredibly nice staff, and I'm now at least aware of it, as it would make a good option for when my kids and grandkids visit the area.
One thing I noticed is that the work desk in the room was quite large. I mention this, since I have read complaints elsewhere regarding work desks.
Lastly, it seems that any property that I have stayed at on a cat. 5 cert. in recent years, receives the mark of doom, where if I stay there using a cert., it is certain to increase in category the following year. So I'll be looking next spring when the list of category increases is published.
I always think the annual whining about the certificates is misplaced. It is a wonderful award; while not perhaps for aspirational travel, there are plenty of locations it might be used. Marriott doesn't need to provide these at all. The fact that you can earn them for credit card and Mega Bonus etc. is a welcome award.
We often stay for flight placement at hotels we otherwise would not visit; the opportunity to do so 'free' starts the trip off in comfort and with less stress.
They can also be handy during IRROPS and other surprises, particularly if not traveling on OPM.
Marriott has had much less inflation than, say, Hilton, and in fact *downgraded* many hotels this years, over 100, so the redemption does not always trend upward, and they do realign, not always to a higher level.
A couple of the posts above, including from bejacob and boomer, mention the Renaissance Westchester in New York. We're staying here (again), and - while it's a bit quirky - it's a hotel we enjoy.
We've also found - for reasons we're not sure we fully understand - it tends to be cheaper than the Residence Inns and Courtyards in nearby New Rochelle and Yonkers (even though, by almost any measure, it's a nicer property). Granted, it's somewhat off the beaten path, but that's part of the attraction (in our book). Easy access (less than 10 minutes) to White Plains and the mall for big box dining and other conveniences....
As for the property itself:
If you wanted to complain, it is true that there can be a lot of walking between the room, the lounge, the lobby, etc., but that's the price you pay for a lush, green, integrated feel....
In Arizona you could stay at the Marriott Springhill Suites Marriott SpringHill Suites, Historic Downtown Prescott Arizona It is in a great location where you can walk to the many bars/restaurants/shops on Whiskey Row. There is great hiking in the area and the town goes all out at Halloween decorating houses, leaves turning, and a fun arts and crafts festival this weekend.